Students providing services on Solaris

At Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, we built a team of students providing services for other students on Solaris OS.

A need of urgent action

In the past, some students I was leading, provided different services like svn, wiki, forum, webserver, etc. for other students on a single server called the iServer. As this server was not firewalled by our IT Service and not officially supported by them, we had to take urgent action as the IT Services told us that they will take down the server in this summer because it didn’t fit their SLA and IT rules. So we had to hurry building a new team of fresh students (most of the students in the old team are leaving this summer).


Why not using existent infrastructure?

We came up with the idea, that our Enterprise Lab ( could be the best place to provide such services. With the agreement of the labs head Bruno Joho, we could easily keep the services up. Of course he agreed, as this finally could be a big improvement on the visibility of our lab. So we decided to migrate all the services to the Enterprise Lab.

That is hours of work! Who can do the whole task until summer?

As the idea was up we started to think on who could do all the work. And we came to the great idea: Why not let the students do the work? It’s a win-win situation for both: the students and the Enterprise Lab staff. Students can improve their knowledge on Solaris and learn how to keep a service up and running. So we decided, the whole task from planning, over migrating to actually providing the service should be done by individual students who are interested in such topics. As we couldn’t expect the students having much knowledge of Solaris and the infrastructure of our lab, we decided to assign mentors to each service. A mentor is a person who has knowledge on Solaris and on a specific
service. So the students could ask them if they run into problems.

Whats next?

Finally, after three weeks of recruitment of new members we had built a team with 20 students. Now we started to migrate the following services which can be used by students, staff and professors:

– a forum with user authentication over ldap (in the past we had to set up each user separately) –
– a blog space with ldap auth (
– a place for subversion repositories
– a place for public/or private wikis (students mostly use this for learning for their finals)
– a web space (public_html of users home will be available to the world)
– a bug tracking system (where students can maintain their projects)
– a database server (where students, staff, etc. can play with databases, mainly mysql)
– and maybe much more services to come

The goal is, that we can start providing those services this summer. Some services are already up and running. The second goal is to let the students improve their knowledge in Solaris and other Sun technology as their services all run in our lab. So they have to deal with zfs, zones, ldap, apache, php, mailman, wordpress, dokuwiki, bugtrak, svn, mysql,
ssh, … and much much more.

This way I hope we can build a big Solaris community on our campus.